Windows 7 vs. Ubuntu 9.10 - Good and bad

Over the past few days I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the differences between Microsoft’s latest Windows 7 and Canonical’s Ubuntu 9.10. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of each of the operating systems. Is a free operating system really as good as one that you pay for?

Let’s take a look at several aspects of using operating systems and examine the various strengths and weaknesses of each OS.


Windows 7

  • Pros
    - Install is quick, easy and painless.
    - After working through a few wizard screens at the beginning, the install is automatic
  • Cons
    - None really

Ubuntu 9.10

  • Pros
    - Option to “try before you install” using the Live CD feature
    - Can easily install as a dual boot or even inside Windows using the Wubi installer
  • Cons
    - Unless you’re luck to get a CD, you do have to mess about with .ISO files and burn a disc. If you’re happy doing that, it’s not really a problem.


Windows 7

  • Pros
    - Both are excellent
  • Cons
    - None really

Ubuntu 9.10

  • Pros
    - Both are excellent
  • Cons
    - None really


I’ve thought long and hard about this one and I’ve come to the conclusion that while neither OS is perfect (far from it), both are also just as usable once you devote the time to figuring things out. I have years of Windows experience under my belt and a lot less with Ubuntu but I can’t say that’s a problem.


Windows 7

  • Pros
    - If you’re willing to pay, there’s a lot of software for the Windows platform
    - Equally, there’s a LOT of free stuff if you look around
  • Cons
    - Bundled fayre is pretty poor

Ubuntu 9.10

  • Pros
    - Comes complete with an excellent array of software
    - Access to, and installing, new software is a snap
  • Cons
    - None really … just don’t expect to run Windows software (even if you do resort to Wine)

Media Support

Windows 7

  • Pros
    - Excellent support for media formats, including DRMed media, out of the box
  • Cons
    - Windows Media Player isn’t the best bit of software around

Ubuntu 9.10

  • Pros
    - Good support for media formats
  • Cons
    - If you want to play DVDs then you need to resort to “Restricted” codecs
    - Many media formats that use proprietary DRM just won’t work on Ubuntu because of DRM restrictions

Hardware support

Windows 7

  • Pros
    - On the whole, Windows 7 offers excellent support for modern hardware right out of the box
  • Cons
    - You might be out of luck with old hardware

Ubuntu 9.10

  • Pros
    - Overall, hardware support is good, and getting better
    - On really low-end hardware you can substitute Ubuntu for Xubuntu
  • Cons
    - There are no guarantees
    - There’s no “Works with Linux” logo that buyers can look for when buying new hardware

Final thoughts

There’s no doubt that Windows is the default OS for many users. In fact, for most users out there it’s the only OS and many of those aware that a different OS exists know about Mac OS rather than Linux.

That said though, Linux is a very good, robust and highly-usable operating system. It’s also fun to use and free. I understand how for many people operating systems are akin to religions, but there are huge advantages to being OS-agnostic. One advantage is that you can pick and choose the right OS for the job.

written by

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

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Ubuntu 9.10 vs Windows 7

Canonical will release the latest version of the open-source operating system Ubuntu this Thursday, and we look at how it stacks up against Windows 7

Ubuntu 9.10, known as Karmic Koala The latest update to the open-source Ubuntu operating system will be released Thursday

Apple let Snow Leopard out of its cage earlier this autumn, and Canonical will release another beast this week: Karmic Koala, otherwise known as the open-source operating system Ubuntu 9.10. This comes on the heels of Microsoft's launch of Windows 7, a major update of Vista.

There are hundreds of different versions or distributions of Linux, some pitched for general use and others for specific needs or tasks such as high security, older machines or multimedia. In the five years since its launch, Ubuntu has risen to become one of the most popular.

Linux is popular running servers or embedded systems, but it remains a minority sport as a desktop operating system. Desktop Linux use figures are difficult to pin down and highly contested. Some put the figures as low as 1% while Linux enthusiasts say that figure is closer to 12%. As Bruce Byfield wrote earlier this year when looking at the figures, choose your logic and choose your figure.

Based on the Debian flavour of Linux, Ubuntu has focused on trying to bring Linux to the masses, promising "Linux for Human Beings". I'm going to put Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.10 head-to-head in this review.

Installation and upgrades

I'm relatively agnostic when it comes to operating systems, although I know that Linux purists and Microsoft advocates will be looking for any hint of bias in this review. Every day I use Mac OS 10.4 and Windows XP via virtualisation on a MacBook and Ubuntu 8.10 on an Athlon XP 2400+ desktop. I also have been using Windows 7 on the MacBook via multi-boot setup using the very useful rEFIt bootloader.

I'm using the latest release candidate for Ubuntu 9.10, and I'm using the Windows 7 beta on the MacBook for comparison.

For the purpose of this review, I did an in-place upgrade on a Dell Latitude Cpx with a 750Mhz Pentium III and a fresh install on the MacBook.

Upgrading to a new version of Ubuntu is easy. Like Windows and Mac OS X, Ubuntu automatically keeps your operating system up to date. Windows will update Microsoft software and the operating system. However, Ubuntu will not only update itself but also update any software installed on your system.

For the upgrade to 9.10, Ubuntu downloads the software to carry out the upgrade and steps you through the process. Even on this vintage hardware, it took about two hours, but on a faster machine, it would have taken far less. However, the time of the upgrade depends on the speed of your internet and the speed of your computer.

If it's the first time that you've installed Ubuntu, you can download a CD image and burn your own installation CD. One of the reasons that I began using Ubuntu is that the CD allows you to run the operating system without installing it to your hard drive. It's a try-before-you-format-your-hard-drive option. There is a shortcut on the desktop to begin the installation process.

The Wubi installer for Ubuntu The Wubi installer makes adding Ubuntu to a Windows system very easy

I also installed Ubuntu 9.10 on the MacBook using a helper application called Wubi, which makes installing Ubuntu alongside Windows a breeze. It asks how much of your hard drive you'd like to turn over to Ubuntu and asks you to set up an account for Ubuntu. Copying over the necessary files took less than 10 minutes. When I rebooted into Windows, I now had the option to boot into Windows 7 or Ubuntu. The first time I booted into Ubuntu, it finished up installing in about 5 minutes. While Ubuntu installs, you'll see useful information for those not familiar with the operating system and the open-source application included by default.

I installed the Windows 7 beta on the Athlon desktop upgrading from Windows XP. Upgrading from Vista to Windows 7 is relatively straightforward, but the update from Windows XP is more complicated. Jack Schofield has already given a full review of Windows 7. Of course, the big challenge for Ubuntu or any other version of Linux is that hundreds of thousands of computers will ship with Windows 7 pre-installed. However, Ubuntu does come as an option on computers from major manufacturers such as Dell, HP, Acer and Toshiba.

The main benefits of Ubuntu 9.10, Karmic Koala, over its predecessor are:
• Faster boot times, which Ubuntu has been working on in the last two releases.
• If you have a computer with Intel integrated graphics, Ubuntu has a new driver to improve graphics processing and stability.
• Ubuntu has added an excellent cloud storage service, Ubuntu One. More on that in a bit.
• Ubuntu has revamped the way to add new applications with a new Software Centre.

You can see all of the updates and new features in Ubuntu's 9.10 Technical Overview.

Verdict: Upgrading Windows Vista to Windows 7 was about as easy as upgrading Ubuntu from a previous version. Upgrading Windows XP to 7 was much more complicated. The Wubi installer is a study in simplicity. Ubuntu wins this one with more options and simplicity across all options


In terms of speed, Windows 7 is definitely lighter on hardware than Vista. It was quite usable on the Athlon desktop, especially after I shut off the Aero visual effects.

This review isn't about speed tests but a feature comparison, and I'm not going to compare Ubuntu running on a nearly 10 year old laptop to Windows 7 running on a 2.0Ghz dual-core Core Duo MacBook or even an Athlon XP 2400 desktop.

However, if you've got an older computer that is starting to feel sluggish but you either don't want to or can't afford to buy a new computer, give Ubuntu a go. You'll get an up-to-date operating system running quite smoothly on your out-of-date computer.

Ubuntu also comes in several different versions. Ubuntu uses the Gnome desktop, which has a nice mix of style and speed. Xubuntu uses the lighter-weight XFCE desktop to get the most of older hardware.

Verdict: Windows 7 is much better than its predecessor in terms of running well on older hardware. Ubuntu always has been strong on a wide range of hardware.

Drivers and hardware

Ubuntu has pros and cons when it comes to drivers. It is generally quite good at recognising a wide range of hardware. With Windows, I had to download a driver for my vintage 3Com WiFi PC Card, but with Ubuntu, it works out of the box. The support for the WiFi card even improved from Ubuntu 9.04 to Ubuntu 9.10.

Ubuntu added extensions to take advantage of special keys for my laptop, and when I plugged in a spare Mac keyboard, it handled special Mac-centric keys too such as the CD eject button.

Those are the pros, but there are cons. My home desktop uses an ATI Radeon 9600XT video card. ATI's proprietary video driver is excellent for Linux, but they moved my not terribly old card to legacy support so I have to rely on the open-source driver, which doesn't deliver the same performance. I'm not going to upgrade Ubuntu on my home desktop until I get a newer video card. This isn't Ubuntu's fault, but it is a source of irritation.

If Ubuntu doesn't automatically install a driver, it can be quite a bit of effort getting something to work, and not all hardware and peripherals will work with Linux. Sometimes to get hardware to work, you'll have to go to the command line, which is terrifying territory for most users. It's worth checking to see if Linux drivers exist for your printer and other key peripherals.

The installation went pretty smoothly on the MacBook apart from the sound driver. Sounds plays from the speakers but not from headphones. UPDATE: As commenter Yelvington points out, the headphone issue isn't down to drivers but something even slightly more bedeviling. The headphone sound is muted by default after the installation, and I had to install the Gnome Alsa Mixer to unmute it.

Windows has always had issues with drivers. I still am baffled why Windows forgets hardware that I have installed previously. Windows 7 doesn't seem to have completely solved these issues.

The Windows and by extension Linux hardware eco-system has always been both a strength and a weakness. Thousands, if not millions, of vendors make hardware and peripherals for Intel-based computers that can run Windows or Linux. It is wonderful to have so much choice and competition. However, it does make handling drivers much more complicated than in the relatively limited Apple hardware world.

Verdict: Both Microsoft and Ubuntu could improve on how they handle drivers.


Windows Media Centre Windows Media Centre is included on all but the entry level version of Windows 7, and it manages media well and is great software to watch TV

Looking at the default applications that come with both Windows 7 and Karmic Koala, Ubuntu installs the Rhythmbox player for music and the Movie Player for video. Both are capable, and anyone familiar with Apple's iTunes will find the application easy to navigate.

Due to licencing restrictions and Ubuntu's own philosophy, it does not ship with the ability to play commercial DVDs. It's relatively easy to add commercial DVD support by adding Ubuntu Restricted Extras in the Software Centre, which I'll get to in a minute.

Most versions of Windows 7 come with Windows Media Player and Media Centre. The Media Centre is impressive and polished. It organises your pictures, video and music files, and it gives you the kind of 10-foot interface that works well from your couch in the lounge.

If your computer supports it, Media Centre also has an excellent interface for watching television. The electronic programme guide is excellent and makes it easy to schedule recording of TV programmes.

Verdict: Microsoft wins this one. Windows Media Centre ships with all but the most basic version of Windows 7, and it's a nice piece of software. I'm sure that Linux enthusiasts will be quick to point out the digital-rights management issues of Windows, but in terms of included software, Windows Media Centre beats the applications included with Ubuntu.

Software and applications

Ubuntu Software Centre Ubuntu has a new application to add software, the Software Centre

In terms of software, Ubuntu is like the iPhone. Almost anything you'd care to do, there's an app for that. However, you'll have to learn to translate from the applications that you're used to on the Mac or Windows. For people looking to make the switch to Linux, is a good directory of open-source alternatives to common commercial software.

Ubuntu comes with OpenOffice installed by default as its office productivity suite. The default installation has word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software, and a database application can be added. Ubuntu also has GIMP photo editing software installed. GIMP is full featured, but the interface is confusing. Similar to Apple's included photo management software iPhoto, Ubuntu comes with F-Spot.

Windows 7 users will need to buy Microsoft Office, or you can also download OpenOffice and GIMP. Windows users will be used to Outlook to handle their email. Ubuntu ships with Evolution, which handles email and also has calendaring software.

Ubuntu 9.10 comes with Firefox 3.5 as standard, and it now ships with the Empathy multiple protocol instant messaging client. Empathy works with most instant messaging systems including AIM, Gtalk/Jabber, MSN and IRC, just to name a few.

UPDATED: Windows 7 has MSN Windows Live messenger and ships with Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8, which is a vast improvement over previous versions. As commenter Briantist and snipsnip point out, you'll have to download Windows Live messenger as part of the Windows Live apps.

To install other applications, Ubuntu 9.10 changed the Add/Remove Software application with a refreshed tool called Ubuntu Software Centre. You can search the directory full of hundreds of applications.

Other software sources can be added to install software such as Skype and Google. It's not an uncomplicated process,

Windows 7 comes with a simple application to manage your photos and do basic editing, quite capable multimedia software and an internet browser. Everything else you'll have to pay for, although many of the open-source applications available on Linux are now also available for Windows.

Verdict: Ubuntu wins this hands down with a huge range of free software packages ready to download.

Ubuntu in the cloud

Ubuntu One cloud storage on the desktop Ubuntu One cloud storage appears as a desktop folder

The last release of Ubuntu, 9.04 or Jaunty Jackalope, brought a lot of cloud-computing features to the open-source operating system. OpenNebula and Eucalyptus ave system administrators the flexibility to build private, public and even hybrid clouds. The additions allowed Ubuntu to easily take advantage of Amazon's EC2 cloud computing service. However, these additions were aimed at system administrators not consumers.

Ubuntu 9.10 brings cloud storage to the masses with its Ubuntu One service. It's simple and well integrated. Whenever you save a file, you have the option to save it directly to Ubuntu One. Up to 2GB of storage is free, and you can pay for higher amounts of storage.

You can also share files with other people, and your files are easily available on other computers, even ones not running Ubuntu. However, I had some issues accessing Ubuntu One on a MacBook with Safari. However, it worked well on the open-source browser Firefox. The service is in beta so I'd expect a few glitches.

Apple has long had it's .Mac and MobileMe services. Microsoft doesn't have a similar service built into Windows.

Microsoft's Live Mesh I stand corrected. Microsoft does have a cloud storage application, Live Mesh, which also boasts desktop sharing

UPDATE: As commenter snipsnip reminds me, Microsoft does have a remote storage and remote desktop service in beta called Live Mesh and SkyDrive, which offers 25GB of storage for free. It's not yet integrated into the operating system in the way that Ubuntu One is, but Microsoft is under scrutiny about what it integrates into the OS because of its market dominance. It is cross-platform to a point. Like Ubuntu One, you can access it via a browser. However, some of its functionality relies on Microsoft's Silverlight.

Verdict: Ubuntu wins this as well. Microsoft doesn't really have an answer for this feature, yet. UPDATE: Microsoft does have an answer in Live Mesh and SkyDrive. Live Mesh isn't quite yet as well integrated as Ubuntu One is immediately from startup.

Ease of use

This is a subjective decision. I've spent the last two years using Ubuntu, and I find it relatively easy. However, just like anyone moving to a new operating system, there is a learning curve, and Linux advocates often gloss over this. Ubuntu has made great strides in ease of use, but average users will still struggle with it at times.

Adding new software sources so that you can easily install applications such as Skype or Google Earth will be beyond most average users. User interface design for Linux has made huge strides this decade, but it still lags behind software on Mac OS X and Windows 7.

Windows 7 will be an adjustment for XP users. Vista users won't notice a change apart from a faster, smoother experience and less annoying pop-ups second-guessing your choices.

Verdict: Windows still is easier to use than Linux for some key tasks. As I said, this is a subjective choice based on assumptions I'm making about average computer users. I don't find Ubuntu difficult to use, but I have invested quite a bit of time learning how to use it over the last two years. Most users just want things to work. Ubuntu is making a lot of progress, but Microsoft has stepped up its game as well.

Final Verdict

Windows 7 is a worthy successor to Windows XP. Vista had well known flaws, which meant that it never replaced XP for most users. For those with a lot of investment in Windows software, there probably will be no reason to look elsewhere. Windows 7 is a worthwhile upgrade. Most people use Windows not because they really think about operating systems but because the software they use runs on Windows.

For those not that tied into the Windows world, Ubuntu is worth a look for people looking for an alternative. My final take away from using Mac OS X, Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.10 is that consumers have never had more choices for capable, powerful and easy to use operating systems. Linux users will be quick to point out that Ubuntu is only one Linux distribution.

I had tried Linux frequently as soon as I got broadband almost 10 years ago, but I always gave up after a few days until Ubuntu. It's a relatively easy to use, modern operating system that will only cost you the time to download it.

Posted by Kevin Anderson

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Download microsoft tool that lets netbook owners install Windows 7

Microsoft has released a tool that lets netbook owners install Windows 7 on their machines using a USB flash drive, sidestepping the usual requirement of a DVD drive.

The utility, Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool, creates a bootable flash drive from a downloaded .iso file, or disk image, of Windows 7, and can be purchased from Microsoft's online store.

"This tool allows you to create a copy of the .iso file to a USB flash drive or a DVD," said Microsoft in the instructions accompanying the tool. "To install Windows 7 from your USB flash drive or DVD, all you need to do is insert the USB flash drive into your USB port or insert your DVD into your DVD drive and run Setup.exe from the root folder on the drive."

The USB/DVD Download Tool solves the problem facing netbooks users who want to upgrade to Windows 7, since virtually all netbooks lack a DVD drive. Earlier this year, rumors circulated that Microsoft might offer Windows 7 upgrades on a flash drive, but the talk turned out to be nothing but wishful thinking.

Users need a 4GB USB drive to install Windows 7 on a PC without an optical drive, Microsoft said. Other requirements include .NET Framework 2.0 or later, and the ability to run as administrator on the to-be-upgraded netbook.

The netbook's BIOS must also be modified to set the boot order so that the USB drive is first on the list. "Please see the documentation for your computer for information on how to change the BIOS boot order of drives," Microsoft recommended.

Last Thursday, Microsoft warned users to seek help if they were unfamiliar with tweaking the BIOS. "If you are not comfortable making this type of BIOS change, I recommend you seek some assistance from your favorite 'tech geek,'" Microsoft spokesman Brandon LeBlanc urged in an entry to the Windows 7 blog.

Because most netbooks run Windows XP, only a "clean" upgrade to Windows -- Microsoft dubs it "Custom" during the installation -- is possible. That requires users to back up data and application settings before upgrading, then restore the data and settings, as well as reinstall all applications. (This Computerworld FAQ outlines the steps to take before beginning the Windows 7 upgrade from XP.)

The USB/DVD Download Tool is a 947KB file that can be downloaded from Microsoft's site (download .exe file).

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Netbook users can install Windows 7 with USB drive option

Many Netbook users want to upgrade to Windows 7 but they face a problem – they don’t have a DVD drive in their machine. The way around that is to borrow or buy an external drive, but that just adds to the cost of buying the new OS if you have no other use for the drive afterwards.

Microsoft has decided to give netbook users another option, though, and it is now possible to download different versions of Windows 7 to a USB drive. Here’s what the Microsoft Store has to say about it:

If you’ve got a netbook, you probably don’t have a CD or DVD drive – so you may be wondering how you can upgrade to Windows 7. We’ve got your answer. The Microsoft Store is the only place where you can get a downloadable version of Windows 7. Download Windows 7 directly onto a USB drive on your netbook – no CD or DVD drive necessary – and start taking advantage of the best Windows yet.

Your netbook can therefore be setup to boot from the USB device and the Windows 7 installation will commence. The only problem this might raise is the fact a BIOS change is required to get the netbook to boot from USB leaving less tech-savvy users in the dark as to how to go about doing this. No doubt guides will appear on the web before the day is over.

For the moment this offer only seems to be available through the U.S. version of the online Microsoft Store. When purchasing the upgrade you can choose between just a Download, or a Download + Backup disc option, which costs an additional $14.95. The options you have when it comes to versions is Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate. There is no download available for Starter edition.

Read more at PC Pro

Matthew’s Opinion

It’s in Microsoft’s interests to make Windows 7 available to buy in as many ways as possible therefore removing the barriers of entry. Download is the only sensible option for netbook users and the option of a backup disc is welcomed, if a little expensive.

If you don’t order the backup disc then I assume you need to keep that USB stick just in case a re-install is required. It would also have been nice if Microsoft had made it clear before purchase how big of a USB drive you need for the different versions. There is no indication of this on the information page right before you click “Add to Cart”. A link to “how to install from a USB drive” information page is also pretty essential, but missing from the Store as far as I can tell.

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Microsoft Launches Windows 7 , now It's Official !

Microsoft on Thursday formally unveiled Windows 7, its thz latest in a long line of computer operating systems that are meant to bridge the gap between man and personal computing machine.

IBM and Canonical will introduce a software package for netbooks and other thin client devices in Africa. This is the first cloud- and premise-based Linux netbook software package offered by IBM and Canonical. His unprecedented ability to manipulate individual atoms signaled a quantum leap forward in in nanoscience experimentation and heralded in the age of nanotechnology. Raymond Voelker, CIO of Progressive Insurance, on the importance of blogging and the success of his company's Internet-bases insurance quotation app.
IBM and Canonical will introduce a software package for netbooks and other thin client devices in Africa. This is the first cloud- and premise-based Linux netbook software package offered by IBM and Canonical.
Windows 7 promises a streamlined interface, support for touch screens, and security features that, while robust, don't interfere with users' day-to-day interactions with their computers, the software maker claims.

Retailers girded for the debut of the new OS--the first since Redmond introduced Windows Vista in January 2007.

Best Buy is offering free shipping on Windows 7 computers, while Web merchant Amazon pledged to deliver the product on "launch day" for a nominal fee. In a harbinger of its potential popularity, Windows 7 pre-sales were the top seller in Amazon's software category as of early Thursday.

The OS is available in 32-bit and 64-bit editions and pre-sales of both were holding up well. Microsoft is hosting a Web site, dubbed the Windows 7 Compatibility Center, that lists third-party hardware and software products that have been certified as compatible with Windows 7.

Microsoft needs Windows 7 to be a hit, given that the company's software sales have experienced sharp declines in recent quarters. Windows sales were off 13% in Redmond's last fiscal year.

Consumer scrutiny of Windows has been fueled by the fact that Vista was found lacking by numerous critics. Common gripes pointed to its horsepower requirements, incompatibility with older systems, and its disruptive security measures.

Microsoft claims Windows' major problems have been fixed with Windows 7, which is said to be significantly more user friendly than its predecessor Vista. Microsoft also has introduced new tools designed to ensure customers can run Windows 7 on their PCs, laptops, and mobile devices.

The full version of Windows 7 Professional is $299, with upgrades going for $199. Windows 7 Ultimate is priced at $319, with the upgrade version at $219. The full version of Windows 7 Home Premium is priced at $199, with an upgrade from Vista or XP costing $119.

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Critical Windows 7 holes has been fixed

Microsoft released a record number of 13 bulletins for 34 vulnerabilities on Patch Tuesday--and the first critical update for Windows 7--as well as fixes for zero-day flaws involving Server Message Block (SMB) and Internet Information Services (IIS).

The most severe of the three SMB flaws, which were first reported last month, could allow an attacker to take control of a computer remotely by sending a specially crafted SMB packet to a computer running the Server service. Exploit code for one of the SMB holes has been posted to the Web, Microsoft said.

Windows 7 is affected by two critical patches intended to mend vulnerabilities that could allow remote code execution if a malicious Web page were viewed, one part of a cumulative security update for Internet Explorer and the other in .Net Framework and Silverlight.

The official release date for Windows 7 is October 22, but the new operating system has been available to some large businesses with volume licenses since the summer. The code was finalized in July.

Other critical patches in the security bulletin for October fix a vulnerability in Windows Media Runtime that could be exploited if a user opened a malicious media file or received malicious streaming content from a Web site or application, and if a specially crafted ASF (Advanced Systems Format) file is played using Windows Media Player 6.4.

Among the critical updates: a cumulative security update of ActiveX Kill Bits that is being exploited and that affects ActiveX controls compiled using Active Template Library (ATL); and another patch resolving several vulnerabilities in ATL ActiveX Controls that could allow remote code execution if a user loaded a malicious component or control. ActiveX and ATLs were the subject of an emergency patch Microsoft released in July.

The final critical bulletin fixes a hole in Windows GDI+ (Graphics Device Interface) that could allow an attacker to take control of a computer if the user viewed a malicious image file using affected software or browsed a malicious Web page.

"Microsoft has repeatedly had to fix problems related to the Graphics Device Interface in Windows, and vulnerabilities in the component have been exploited broadly in the past. We can expect that security researchers will be looking to reverse-engineer today's patches, which may very well lead to exploits being created," said Dave Marcus, director of security research and communications at McAfee Labs.

Related "For the Record" podcast, with Symantec's Ben Greenbaum
Listen now: Download today's podcast

Nine of the vulnerabilities were previously disclosed, which meant that attackers had time to come up with so-called "zero-day" exploits before the patches were available, Marcus noted.

The most alarming vulnerability in the mix is the SMB flaw, which was introduced by the patch for a different vulnerability, according to Josh Phillips, virus researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle, said the bug that is likely to have the biggest impact will be the critical one that affects Windows Media Runtime and involves a speech codec bug that has limited exploits in the wild. "This is a typical file-parsing issue and similar to vulnerabilities that have allowed attackers to create drive-by attacks that infect unsuspecting video viewers," he said.

Meanwhile, the critical SMB vulnerability is relatively difficult to exploit given default firewall conditions, but the IIS bugs are easy to exploit, Storms added.

"The sheer volume of the bulletins and patches is extreme," said Jason Miller, senior data team leader for Shavlik Technologies. "This is really going to affect administrators. It's going to be very challenging because of the time and research that's going to be needed" to patch systems.

Also released were five bulletins rated "important" to fix vulnerabilities in IIS, for which exploit code has been publicly released and for which there have been limited attacks, along with Windows CryptoAPI, Windows Indexing Service, Windows Kernel, and Local Security Authority Subsystem Service.

The update for Windows CryptoAPI relates to flaws in the way domain names are verified on the Internet, which could allow attackers to impersonate a site and steal information from unsuspecting Web surfers. The holes were revealed by researchers Dan Kaminsky and Moxie Marlinspike at Defcon in August.

Affected software includes Windows 7; Windows 2000; Windows XP; Windows Vista; Server 2003 and 2008; Office XP, 2003, and 2007; Microsoft Office System; SQL Server 2000 and 2005; Silverlight; Visual Studio .Net 2003; Visual Studio 2005 and 2008; Visual FoxPro 8.0 and 9.0; Microsoft Report Viewer 2005 and 2008; Forefront Client Security 1.0; and Office software including Visio, Project, Word Viewer, and Works.

The installation also removes the Win/FakeScanti Trojan, which displays fake malware warnings and then asks computer users to pay for fake antivirus software.

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Three Reasons To Like Windows 7

Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system, due Oct. 22, supersedes the much-scorned Vista, sports several new consumer-friendly features.

Here are our three favorites:

Search: At long last, Windows gets a decent search function to speedily track down words or phrases on stored documents or other files.

Snap: This handy feature enables a user to position two files side by side and then easily copy and paste from one to the other. You could have your notes on the left side of the screen, for example, and the great American novel you're writing on the right.

Taskbar: The icons of programs are lined up along an edge of the screen in this much-improved taskbar. Place your cursor over an icon and you get thumbnail views of all the program's open windows, no matter how far they're buried under other stuff on the screen.

Los Angeles Times

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Frequently asked questions about Windows 7

#1: What are the system requirements for Windows 7?

The Windows 7 system requirements are very similar to those of Windows Vista, and users running Vista shouldn’t have much problems upgrading to Windows 7.

Here are the base system requirements for Windows 7:

* 1GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) CPU
* 1GB RAM for 32-bit OS, 2GB RAM for 64-bit OS
* 16GB hard disk free space for 32-bit OS, 20 GB for 64-bit OS
* DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

Users may want to add one of more of the following:

* Internet access - duh!
* Depending on screen resolution, video playback may need more RAM and more powerful graphics processing unit (GPU)
* To use Windows Media Center functionality you will benefit from a TV tuner
* To use HomeGroup you will need a network and PCs running Windows 7
* DVD/CD burning requires a compatible optical drive
* Music and sound will require audio output
* Windows Touch and Tablet PCs require specific hardware
* Windows XP Mode requires an additional 1 GB of RAM, an additional 15 GB of available hard disk space, and a processor capable of hardware virtualization with Intel VT or AMD-V turned on
* BitLocker requires Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2
* BitLocker To Go requires a USB flash drive

#2: How easy/difficult is upgrading to Windows 7?

How easy or difficult it is to upgrade to Windows 7 depends on what operating system you are starting from.

* If you are planning of buying a new PC with Windows 7 pre-loaded then all of your of your hardware issues are sorted right from the start as far as your PC goes. When it comes to hooking up your existing hardware then you might run into issues where something is incompatible (if it worked with Vista, chances are good that it’ll work with Windows 7), or you’ll have to go searching for a driver. As far as software goes, again you might be OK or you might find yourself needing to seek out updates or even buy new software.
* If you are upgrading to Windows 7 from Vista then when it comes to hardware you should, on the whole be OK (again, you might need new drivers). Software compatibility should also be very good (be wary of installing programs such as antivirus unless they have been updated … security software is usually the most problematic when changing operating systems).
* If you are upgrading to Windows 7 from XP, then beware. Here be tigers! If your PC passes the basic system requirements then you should be OK to run Windows 7, but as far as compatibility of other hardware and software goes, you could find the process to be a smooth one, or you could find it impossible. Also, you’ll want to read #3.

If you are planning on upgrading any Windows-based machine to Windows 7 I suggest that you download and install the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor from Microsoft. This handy bit of software will scan your PC and generate a report for you of any compatibility issues that you are likely to encounter.

#3: Is it true that you can’t upgrade directly to Windows 7 from XP?

Unfortunately, yes, it is. If you are a Windows XP user and you want to move to Windows 7 you can’t carry out what Microsoft calls an “in-place upgrade” where you install Windows 7 over the top of your existing OS and get to keep your applications, setting and data. Instead, you have to do what is known as a “clean install” which basically means you are starting from scratch and installing a totally fresh, clean OS.

As annoying as it might be to have to carry out a clean install, it’s always the route I recommend. It’s always best to back up your data, do a clean install, reinstall all your applications and then copy your data back over onto any system when upgrading your operating system. This method offers the best possible start for your new OS experience.

#4: Which edition of Windows 7 do I need?

My blanket advice to people asking me this question is this - If you have to ask the question, then go with the Home Premium edition of Windows 7. This OS is the cheapest consumer edition of Windows 7 and includes everything that the average user will need.

To find out what the different editions have to offer, check out the editions chart over on the Microsoft website.

#5: Should I go for 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 7?

If your hardware can handle it, there’s almost no reason preventing you from going 64-bit. If in any doubt about your hardware consult the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor from Microsoft.

written by : Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

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Windows 7 Battery Life Tests

One of the most important aspect of performance for Windows 7 is energy efficiency. With the new operating system, Microsoft is introducing technology aimed at reducing the computer's energy consumption and boosting laptop battery life. For instance, in a procedure that the company calls timer coalescing, Windows 7 will simultaneously perform certain routine tasks that require the processor, which in turn allows the computer to spend more time in lower-power mode.

Battery-life tests were a wash. While one of our PCs gained 15 minutes of run time with Windows 7, the other improved by 1 minute. Your mileage may vary. *Times are in hours:minutes. Longer times indicate better performance.>In our tests, the Gateway T-6815 laptop gained an additional 15 minutes of battery life on average with Windows 7. Running under Vista, the Gateway lasted 2 hours, 58 minutes on a single battery charge; under Windows 7 it ran for 3 hours, 12 minutes. Our Lenovo Y530, in contrast, eked out an insignificant 1-minute improvement with Windows 7.

Of course, your individual system-performance gain will depend to a large extent on your setup, but our results were still encouraging. At best, your laptop will gain a few extra minutes of run time; at worst, the battery life will be about the same as it was under Windows Vista.

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Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy by hbailla Privacy Policy for My Blog. The privacy of our visitors to my blog is important to us. At my blog, we recognize that privacy of your personal information is important. Here is information on what types of personal information we receive and collect when you use and visit my blog, and how we safeguard your information. We never sell your personal information to third parties. We use third party advertisements on my blog to support our site. Some of these advertisers may use technology such as cookies and web beacons when they advertise on our site, which will also send these advertisers (such as Google through the Google AdSense program) information including your IP address, your ISP , the browser you used to visit our site, and in some cases, whether you have Flash installed. This is generally used for geotargeting purposes (showing New York real estate ads to someone in New York, for example) or showing certain ads based on specific sites visited (such as showing cooking ads to someone who frequents cooking sites).
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